I am dyeing my hair a wacky color again, though.

I recently had a reunion with several alum pizens (EC third west residents).  I left EC in 2010.

Sitting there on the grass, laughing at old times, talking about our current lives, what played in my mind was one simple thought: “This would never have happened if not for East Campus”

East Campus forced me to grow up.  It set me on the path to becoming a more confident person.  It set me on the path to being able to set my own path, breaking away from other people’s expectations — and breaking away from my own.  It didn’t give me permission to try out new things.  It asked me why the #$%^ was I asking for permission.

Which sounds so frighteningly anarchist.  I dyed my hair wacky colors and did things that could cause some MIT admins to cringe.  We get it, we can make people uncomfortable — if those people aren’t judging us by our character.

By all accounts, I look like what an administrator might want of an MIT grad.  I’m a software engineer and project manager who loves my work.  I have a great relationship with my parents.  I have good friends.  I have pursuits I’m passionate about.  I’m continuing onwards to get a master’s.  I think that qualifies as “well adjusted”.

None of that would’ve happened had I lived on the west side.  I would’ve been in a career I didn’t enjoy because it was the only thing I ever imagined for myself.  I wouldn’t have walked out of MIT capable of forming deep friendships – I was always holding people at arm’s length.  I used to shy from uncomfortable situations.  Now I ask myself if it’s possible I’ll grow, and I chase uncomfortable situations head-on.  That habit has served me so well in recent years, in every aspect of my life.

The east side isn’t something everyone wants or needs.  But it’s a reminder to keep asking the most important question in the universe: Why not?

There’s something special here.  Don’t let it go away.